Educating Practice Teachers and Specialist Practice Mentors for their new role: Ensuring high quality Practice Learning: Final report from the task and finish group on health visitor practice education

Anne Devlin, Karen Adams, Lynne Hall, Pauline Watts

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


This report presents the findings and deliverables from the Task and Finish Group on Health Visitor Practice Education established by Health Education England in February 2014. Its goals were to examine current models and experience of learning in practice, review the evidence-base related to effective learning in this milieu and develop standards and recommendations commensurate with excellent health visiting practice education.After outlining the background and context that provided the foundation for this work in section 1, section 2 of the report provides a summary of the research and policy evidence base outlining attributes associated with effective practice learning. We believe this review may be useful to many tasked with delivering effective placement-learning in a range of health settings.Recent policy drivers aimed at expanding the health visiting workforce mean that those engaged with learning in the health visiting field are tasked with managing the educational preparation of a greater number of students and the preceptorship of significant numbers of recently qualified practitioners The survey of over 700 practice teachers, mentors, clinical managers and health visiting students indicated that the traditional one-to-one practice teacher student model, which had been prevalent in health visiting practice education, has been succeeded by a number of different models of practice teaching, supervision and support. The profile of practice teachers appears to have been raised considerably by the recent focus on expanding the health visiting workforce and the emergence of specialist practice mentors nationally was observed. While the survey indicated a generally positive response to the evolving models of practice learning, the expectations associated with these emerging roles and the educational preparation and support provided for them was unclear.This report presents national role descriptors for practice teachers and specialist practice mentors offering employers a framework to inform person specification. A competency framework for practice teachers and specialist practice mentors is also described with related recommendations for future education, training and continuing professional development. Given the plethora of evidence indicating the impact of the socio-cultural learning environment on the development of professional practitioners, Health Education England have developed a number of organisationally focused standards for assuring quality in practice placements, also detailed in this report. They facilitate the strategic managing of practice learning at all levels within the host provider and have the potential to form part of the annual quality monitoring applied to all commissioned education. Finally sharing ‘best practice’ and using evidence as a basis for practice is an important foundation for effective practice-based learning and the potential to exploit technology to support this critical engagement across the wider health visiting community is considered in this account.Health Education England and the Health Visiting Practice Learning Task and Finish Group would like to take this opportunity to thank the many stakeholders who have engaged with us in this work including: Department of Health, Public Health England, NHS England, NHS Employers, LETBs, United Kingdom Standing Conference for Specialist Community Public Health Nursing, Institute of Health Visiting, Health Visitor Task force, Commissioners,Provider Organisations, Nursing and Midwifery Council, Higher Education Institutions,Community Practitioners and Health Visiting Association (CPHVA), leading Health Visiting Academics, Practice Teachers, Specialist Mentors and Student Health Visitors. We would not have achieved the outcomes and recommendations described in this report without their expertise and their willingness to work together to ensure that all health visiting students are offered a quality learning experience in practice.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherHealth Education England
Commissioning bodyNHS England
Number of pages61
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014


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